Comprehensive News Analysis - 18 March 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:


1. ‘Return Assam’s treasure’

B. GS2 Related:


1. Long-term supply pact for Sukhoi jets inked

2. China and Pakistan step up military ties

C. GS3 Related:


1. Plastic Rs. 10 notes in five cities soon

2. ICRISAT, ICAR join hands for crop improvement

3. Promoting the Use of Organic Manure

4. Mechanism to procure bumper crops

5. U.S. trade nominee for ‘aggressive’ steps on IP

6. Railways devoid of dividend payment can now junk populism and hike passenger fares in new avatar

7. ‘Assess impact of Make in India plan’


1. Ministry of Defence and its dynamics


1. Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram

D. GS4 Related:

1. India’s healthcare system needs a tweak in ethics instead of policy change

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1. East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives


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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs

A. GS1 Related

Category: CULTURE

1. ‘Return Assam’s treasure’

 16th Century’s Vrindavani Vastra — to the State

  • A drape (made out of silk) woven by Assamese weavers during the 16th Century under guidance of the Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardevca
  • (Sankardev inspired the Bhakti movement in Assam).
  • The large drape illustrates the childhood activities of Lord Krishna in Vrindavan.
  • It is now in Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
  • The Governor also pointed out that the State is rich in Eri and Muga silk, handloom and bamboo craft, and both Assam and Britain could work together in these sectors for further promotion so that both could reap rich dividends.


B. GS2 Related 


1. Long-term supply pact for Sukhoi jets inked

What’s in news?

India-Russia military equipment deal

  • Supply agreement for the Sukhoi fighter aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force
  • Address the issues of life-cycle support and maintenance.
  • The deals were signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from India and the United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporations of Russia at the first India-Russia Military Industrial Conference in the national capital.

Key Facts:

  • India has the third largest armed forces in the world.
  • One of the largest importers of defence equipment.

2. China and Pakistan step up military ties

What’s in news?

China to strengthen Pakistani military forces

  • To protect the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and to combat cross-border infiltration by militants in China’s western Xinjiang province.
  • Talks were held to cover weapon exchanges (ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and main battle tanks), including the mass production of FC-1 Xiaolong (a lightweight and multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the two countries).

Key facts:

  • Pakistan had deployed more than 15,000 troops to protect the CPEC.
C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Plastic Rs. 10 notes in five cities soon

What’s in news?

  • Centre gave its nod for feed trail of Rs10 denominated plastic notes.
  • The notes are considered to be cleaner than the paper currency and believed to last longer and are difficult to counterfeit.
  • Central banks across the world have been exploring different solutions for extending the life cycle of bank notes. These include introduction of plastic ones and other developments in substrates for enhancing durability including use of natural fiber blends and varnish.

2. ICRISAT, ICAR join hands for crop improvement

What’s in news?

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)- joint partnership on crop improvement and agronomy programmes for grain legumes and dryland cereals.
  • Intended beneficiaries- Small farmers.
  • Identified areas of research- climate smart crops (research on pigeon pea and chickpea for insect resistance), smart food and digitalization of breeding database.
  • Dryland cereals and grain legumes are branded as smart foods – good for consumers, farmers and the planet as they diversify farming systems and help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. 

Basic Information:

ICRISAT – The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

  • International organisation which conducts agricultural research for rural development
  • Parent Organisation-
  • Headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad, Telangana, India)
  • The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is collaborated with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, to establish a DBT-ICRISAT Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC).

CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research)

  • Global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future.
  • CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring sustainable management of natural resources.
  • CGIAR is not part of an international political institution such as the United Nations or the World Bank; it is an ad-hoc organization which receives funds from its members.

The membership of CGIAR includes country governments, institutions, and philanthropic foundations including the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, the Ford Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the  , the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Fund of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC Fund).

3. Promoting the Use of Organic Manure


  • Organic fertilizers have been tested scientifically on various crops and soil types and found suitable for improving soil health and crop productivity.
  • The organic fertilizers presently available may supplement (N,P) by nearly 20-25%.
  • Biofertilizers when applied along with compost or vermicompost , fertilizer saving is almost 50%.
  • The advantages of these organic fertilizers are that they are eco-friendly and not only provide nutrients for maintaining soil fertility but also improve soil physical & biological health.
  • Government is promoting judicious use of chemical fertilizers in conjunction with organic manures and biofertilizers to maintain soil health and productivity.
  • Organic fertilizers largely are produced on-farm by the farmers.
  • When on-farm organic inputs are used, cost of production per unit area is less than 13% under organic agriculture than inorganic management.
  • However, if organic inputs from outside the farm are purchased and utilized, the cost of production increases by about 15-20% depending on the nature of inputs used.
  • Integrated Organic Farming System (IOFS) models being developed under National Project on Organic farming (NPOF) promises to meet 70-80% of organic inputs within the farm thus reducing the market input cost considerably.
  • Government is promoting the use of Organic manures under the scheme Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) of National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).


The Government is promoting the use of organic inputs in the country, through assistance as under:

  • Financial assistance is provided under the component Integrated Manure Management of Paramparagat  Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) for Phosphate Rich Organic Manure (PROM) as per specification and application of PROM to soil to meet phosphorus/Zinc deficiency in soil.
  • Financial Assistance is provided for vermi-compost for procurement of earth worms, preparation of pits, construction of brick wall etc.
  • Promotion of Organic Inputs under Organic & INM Components of Soil Health Management, assistance is provided for Vermi-compost, Bio-fertilizers (Liquid / solid), Waste compost, Herbal extracts etc.
  • Government is also promoting the production of organic manures by providing 100% financial assistance to State Governments/ Government Agencies upto a maximum limit of Rs.190.00 lakh per unit and 33% of project cost maximum limited to Rs.63 lakh per unit for individuals/private agencies through NABARD as capital investment for establishment of agro/vegetable waste compost production units of 3000 Total Per Annum (TPA) production capacity.
  • Under the Rain fed Area Development (RAD) component of NMSA, 50% of cost subject to limit of Rs 125/- per cubic ft. and maximum permissible assistance of Rs.50,000/- per unit for permanent structure and Rs 8,000/- per unit for High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) vermi bed is provided for construction of compost unit and, organic input production unit.
  • The Government of India is providing a Market Development Assistance @ Rs.1500/-per metric ton (MT) to Fertilizer Companies for sale of City Compost.

4. Mechanism to procure bumper crops

Basic requirements and Background

  • The production of a crop depends upon several factors including availability of cultivable land, vagaries of nature, temperature, weather and rainfall scenario, etc.
  • The production and productivity of various major agricultural crops have been fluctuating in the country.
  • Be that as it may, therefore of good precipitation amid rainstorm 2016 and different strategy activities taken by the Government, the nation has seen record foodgrains creation in the present year.
  • As per Second Advance Estimates for 2016-17, total foodgrain production in the country is estimated higher by 6.94 million tonnes than the previous record production of foodgrain.

Governmental Support

  • The Central Government extends price support for procurement of wheat and paddy through Food Corporation of India (FCI) and State Agencies at Minimum Support Price (MSP).
  • Procurement at MSP is open endede, whatever sustenance grains are offered by the agriculturists, inside the stipulated acquirement period and which complies with the quality determinations recommended by Government of India (GOI), are obtained at MSP (and reward/motivation ,assuming any) by the Government offices including FCI, for Central Pool.
  • However, if any producer/farmer gets better price in comparison to MSP, he is free to sell his produce in Open Market to private traders/anyone.
  • Coarse grains are purchased by State Government with permission of Central Government; up to the extent it is required in their Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

Price Support Scheme (PSS)

  • Under Price Support Scheme (PSS), the procurement of oil seeds, pulses and cotton through Central Nodal Agencies at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is also undertaken.
  • This scheme is implemented at the request of the concerned State Government which agrees to exempt the procured commodities from levy of mandi tax and assist central nodal agencies in logistic arrangements including gunny bags, provide working capital for state agencies, creation of revolving fund for PSS operations etc. as required under the Scheme guidelines.
  • The basic objectives of PSS are to provide remunerative prices to the growers for their produce with a view to encourage higher investment and production and to safeguard the interest of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices with low cost of intermediation.
  • Government of India also implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities which are perishable in nature and are not covered under the Price Support Scheme (PSS).
  • The objective of intervention is to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of a bumper crop during the peak arrival period when the prices tend to fall below economic levels and cost of production.
  • The condition is that there should be either at least a 10 percent increase in production or a 10 percent decrease in the ruling market prices over the previous normal year.
  • The scheme is implemented at the request of a State/UT Government which is ready to bear 50 percent of the loss (25 percent in case of North-Eastern States), if any, incurred on its implementation.
  • The extent of total amount of loss to be shared on a 50:50 basis between the Central Government and the State Government is restricted to 25 percent of the total procurement value which includes cost of the commodity procured plus permitted overhead expenses.

5. U.S. trade nominee for ‘aggressive’ steps on IP

Why in news?

  • Incoming U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers this week that he would take “aggressive” measures to protect intellectual property rights in India.
  • IPR protection has been a bone of contention between India and the U.S.
  • The USTR annual report on IP rights has kept India on priority watch list for years now, even as U.S. companies have sought stricter measures. Sec 3 ( d ) of India’s Patent Act prevents pharmaceutical companies from continually extending patents by making minor changes in the product and American companies find India’s compulsory licensing provisions harsh.

What is compulsory licensing?

  • Compulsory licensing is when a government allows someone else to produce the patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner. It is one of the flexibilities on patent protection included in the WTO’s agreement on intellectual property — the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement.

Indian Scenario :

  • In March 2012, India granted its first compulsory license ever. The license was granted to Indian generic drug manufacturer Natco Pharma Ltd for Sorafenib tosylate, a cancer drug patented by Bayer.

Section 3 (d) Of Indian Patents Act 1970

  • Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act 1970 (as amended in 2005) does not allow patent to be granted to inventions involving new forms of a known substance unless it differs significantly in properties with regard to efficacy. Thus, the Indian Patent Act does not allow evergreening of patents. This is a cause of concern to the US pharma companies.
  • The Special 301 process is a unilateral measure taken by the United States under their Trade Act, 1974 to create pressure on countries to increase Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection beyond the TRIPS Agreement. It is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country and is not tenable under the overall WTO regime.
  • India has a well-established legislative, administrative and judicial framework to safeguard Intellectual Property Rights which meets its obligations under the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) while utilizing the flexibilities provided in the international regime to address its developmental concerns.

6. Railways devoid of dividend payment can now junk populism and hike passenger fares in new avatar

Key Points

  • Populism has been bleeding the Indian Railways dry. Inability to increase passenger fares by any significant amount has been its bane and the Railways continues to use freight earnings to cross-subsidise passengers. Now, when both passenger and freight traffic are falling, the Railways needs to choose between populism and pragmatism. Improving freight earnings and hiking passenger fares should be on its plate now.

CAG Recommendation

  • Ministry of Railways needs to revisit the passenger and other coaching tariffs so as to recover the cost of operations in phased manner and reduce losses in core activities.
  • Operational losses on running suburban train services and on account of facility of free/concessional/complimentary passed to various classes of passengers need to be curtailed.

7. ‘Assess impact of Make in India plan’

Key Points:

  • A Parliamentary panel has sought an assessment of how the government’s Make In India (MII) initiative has helped the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)
  • It also directed that dedicated measures should be made to ensure that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) promotes the MSME sector.
  • The Department Related Parliamentary Committee on Commerce and Industry also asked the government to share with it the factors behind Foreign Portfolio Investments turning negative and its impact on the Indian industry.
  • The panel also observed that the capital goods sector is crucial for the industrial growth of the country
  • The panel said a healthy increase in the allocation of the Interest Equalisation Scheme would enable greater coverage and help augment export competitiveness
  • The panel also urged the department of commerce to tackle non-tariff barriers faced by Indian exporters and the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) should be infused with adequate equity to bolster its networth.


1. Ministry of Defence and its dynamics


1. Strategic Partnership In Defence Sector

  • Shri Dhirendra Singh committee had made recommendations to the Government on ‘Strategic Partnership Model’ for creating capacity in the private sector on a long-term basis.
  • Based on these recommendations, the K. Aatre Task Force was constituted to lay down criteria for selection of Strategic Partners for various platforms from the Private Sector.

2. Airborne Warning and Control System

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) is adequately equipped to cater for the threat environment that exists and is ready to meet the role assigned to it.
  • The first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system on board Embraer-145 has been inducted into Indian Air Force
  • Growth of airborne reconnaissance abilities of IAF by method for acquisition and indigenous creation relies on national security, key targets and operational prerequisites of the protection constrains and is checked on by the Government every once in a while. This is alterable and constant process.

3. Defence Manufacturing Units

  • 62% of procurement needs of Army, Air Force and Navy for the year 2015-16 have been met through indigenous sources.

4. Cross Border Attacks

Government had constituted a four member committee under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen. Philip Campose,

  1. To inter alia examine the existing Standing Operating Procedure for security of all Armed Forces establishments;
  2. To suggest a model format for security audit of armed forces establishments;
  3. To recommend short and long term measures including introduction of technological solutions and
  4. Other reforms in the present system of security of armed forces establishments

5. Purchase of Defence Equipment

  • Government is pursuing initiatives to achieve higher levels of indigenisation and self-reliance in the defence sector by harnessing the capabilities of the public and private sector industries in the country.
  • These measures include according priority and preference to procurement from Indian vendors and liberalization of the licensing regime.

6. Indigenisation of Defence Equipment

  • The Defence Production Policy promulgated by the Government, aims at achieving substantive self-reliance in the design, development and production of equipment, weapon systems, platforms required for defence in as early a time frame as possible, creating conditions conducive for private industry to play an active role in this endeavour; enhancing potential of SMEs in indigenisation and broadening the defence R&D base of the country.
    In pursuance of the aforesaid Policy and ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government, the steps taken by the Government, inter-alia include:
  1. In order to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment, a new category of procurement ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM (Indigenously designed, developed and manufactured) )’ has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure-2016 and the same has been accorded top most priority for procurement of capital equipment.
  2. The ‘Make’ Procedure has been simplified with provisions for funding of 90 % of development cost by the Government to Indian industry for design, develop and manufacture of defence equipment.
  3. FDI Policy has been revised and under the revised policy, FDI upto 49% is allowed through automatic route and beyond 49% under Government approval route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded.
  4. Industrial licensing regime for Indian manufacturers has been liberalized and most of the components/ parts/ sub-systems have been taken out from the list of defence products requiring Industrial Licence.
  5. This has reduced entry barriers for new entrants in this sector, particularly SMEs. The initial validity of Industrial Licence has been increased from 3 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by 3 years on a case to case basis.
  6. Issues related to level-playing field between Indian & foreign manufacturers, and between public sector & private sector have also been addressed. These include Exchange Rate Variation (ERV) protection for all Indian vendors, removing anomalies in customs/ excise duty etc.
  7. Offset guidelines have been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts.
  8. Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now not required to indicate the details of IOPs and products at the time of signing of contracts. Services as an avenue of offset have been re-instated.
  9. The process for export clearance has been streamlined and made transparent & online.

Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram was launched in 2014 with Peer Education Program as one of the component.

Under this, Peer Educators are selected and trained on six thematic areas of RKSK namely-
i. nutrition
ii. sexual reproductive health
iii. substance misuse
iv. non – communicable diseases
v. mental health
vi. Injuries and violence

These peer educators work as a change agent helping in responding to their queries raised within their groups, pertaining to the above mentioned six thematic areas.

National Health Mission

The National Health Mission (NHM) aims for attainment of universal access to equitable, affordable and quality health care services, accountable and responsive to people’s needs, with effective inter-sectoral convergent action to address the wider social determinants of health.

Under NHM, support to States/UTs is provided for five key programmatic  components:

  1. Health Systems Strengthening including infrastructure, human resource, drugs & equipment, ambulances, MMUs, ASHAs etc under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).
  2. Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Services (RMNCH + A)
  3. Communicable Disease Control Programs
  4. Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme interventions upto District Hospital level
  5. Infrastructure Maintenance– to support salary of ANMs and LHVs etc.
  6. The objectives of NHM are summarised as under:
  7. Reduction in child and maternal mortality
  8. Prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, including locally endemic diseases.
  9. Access to integrated comprehensive primary health care.
  10. Population stabilisation, gender and demographic balance.
  11. Revitalize local health traditions & mainstream AYUSH.
  12. Universal access to public services for food and nutrition, sanitation and hygiene and universal access to public health care services with emphasis on services addressing women’s and children’s health and universal immunization.
  13. Promotion of healthy life styles.
  14. The NHM has been successful in accelerating the decline of Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Total Fertility Rate (TFR). It has also achieved many of the disease control targets.


D. GS4 Related


  • The National Health Policy has been cleared and the view persists that it falls short of the 2015 draft.
  • That it “neglects to make wellbeing a justiciable appropriate in the way the Right to Education 2005 accomplished for school training.”
  • Point is to raise general wellbeing consumption to 2.5 percent of the GDP in time-bound way.
  • Likewise, it “advocates” at least 66% of assets to essential care, guarantee a proportion of two beds for every 1,000 populace dispersed in a way to contact them inside the brilliant hour, proposes “free medications, free diagnostics and free crisis and fundamental social insurance benefits in every single open doctor’s facility.”
  • The target of 2.5 percent spends of the GDP was set earlier too and had to be met by now. But according to Nadda, now this would happen by 2025.
  • The strategy guarantees a framework which sets and guarantees measures in both government and private human services courses of action.
  • National Healthcare Standards Organization (NHSO)- set models would be the measure against which the patient can whine and an enabled tribunal will manage grievances.
  • Sounds great yet does not motivate certainty since up until now, the framework containing both open and private human services have taken the patients not to great wellbeing but rather on a ride.
  • Anybody utilizing general society medicinal services framework has genuine protestations about the nature of care, finding made, nonattendance of cleanliness inside doctor’s facility premises, or the profiteering by the private area.
  • Indeed, even clinics which are set up by trusts and style themselves as research establishments to secure concessional arrive portion and beat the taxman are no superior to the corporate healing facilities. Both set progressively higher focuses of income per quarter.
  • In the event that a healing facility does not build the bed quality, or the quantity of working theaters or grow its outpatient, it can accomplish higher incomes (which it requires), just by separating more from the patients.
  • There is an assortment of approaches to accomplish these objectives and healing center administrations will generally deny it, yet one of the approaches to accomplish it is by performing methods on patients which are maybe not required.
  • Route back in the 1970, in Guntur, the ladies without uteruses (female conceptive organ) dwarfed with it for it had turned into a practice to prescribe that surgery.
  • Generally, we have seen a racket of sorts getting uncovered. One such introduction has originated from the administration, which demonstrated how stent costs were expanding — up to 10 times — at each progression (beginning with the maker) before it achieved the patient.
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority got shrewd to it and put roofs on their costs, as it has on many medications utilized for treatment of growth.
  • Does disease murder, as well as executes the monetary prosperity of the group of the growth casualty.
  • A few inquiries stay unanswered with respect to human services (one of them is the bill sum patients are made a request to pay).
  • It is basic practice for in-patients to be gone to by ‘another master’ and charged for that.
  • Why for example do a few specialists arrange non-essential tests (which are out of the extent of the analytic appraisal)? Is there an arrangement of reductions between the research centers and the specialists? Can any anyone explain why a surgery cost a specific entirety in a general ward, rather than private wards? Does the nature of surgery vary from shared to single-slept with rooms?
  • These issues could be managed on need premise, by making private medicinal services moderate regardless of the possibility that not as modest as in the general population doctor’s facilities.
  • Furthermore, open doctor’s facilities could be made more human services amicable by increasing the measures at each level, including diminishing the level of disregard which stops by poor staffing at most levels, imagined non-accessibility of medications which compel patients to go and get it from specialist neighborly drug specialists. Or, on the other hand, basically, make both segments minding.


E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1.East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)

  • An Islamic extremist separatist organization founded by Uyghur jihadists in western China.
  • Its stated goals are to establish an independent state called “East Turkestan” in Xinjiang.
  • The group has been designated as a terrorist organization.



G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

Question 1: Which among the following are Social security schemes?
  1. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)
  2. Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)
  3. Aam Admi Bima Yojana (AABY)
  4. Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

Identify the correct options

  1. 1 only
  2. 1,3 and 4
  3. 2 and 4
  4. All the above
Question 2: Consider the following statements:
  1. India has a target for renewable energy generation of 175 gigawatts by 2020.
  2. Of the target, 100 GW would be from solar power.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None

For previous practice questions solution, click here


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